Resisting what?

 

The essay by Raksha Vasudevan (“Mountain biking is my act of resistance,” HCN, 3/4/19) has disquieted me. This may be the intent of HCN’s editors, but I wonder what the takeaway is for most readers. For me, it is frustration with a mindset that claims victim status just for being different, and with a publication that offers it up as insight. The author has pointed the finger of shame at Colorado residents, apparently for not making her feel more welcome. I searched her essay for examples of why she feels so fearful of venturing into “rural areas” or “being attacked and left in the forest,” and found only that sense of alienation — her term — that seems to swiftly germinate in the rich fodder of media negativity and social commentary. She speaks to expected escalations of “rhetoric and violence against people of color,” racist threats against a Fremont, California, woman, and the anxiety she felt when a “man in a camouflage shirt” passed her on the trail. But beyond the statement that “like most women of color in Colorado,” she earns a “disproportionately low salary,” I get no sense of what my city’s treatment of her has been to engender a desire for “resistance,” and moreover, what role I can play in reducing her seeming resentment of the place she now calls home. 

I mean no disrespect to the author, who feels what she feels. My own attitudes and behavior cannot free her from her perceptions and mistrust of “pale-skinned people” like me. To feel unwelcome is painful, surely, but one’s pain can’t always be blamed on others. If I may be naively optimistic, consider the possibility that those you think are judging you are simply reacting to your demeanor, or, yes, even your uniqueness, rather than eyeing you with malice. I suggest that we usually reap what we sow, and expecting goodness from others can lead to experiencing it.

To Ms. Vasudevan: I am glad that mountain biking has become your place of rejuvenation and solace. And when I next haul my creaky old body onto my mountain bike, against others’ expectations for a woman of my advanced years, I welcome the appearance of you and other young women of color on the trail. More so than many avenues in life, I believe the trail welcomes us all. 

Gladys Connolly 
Denver, Colorado

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